There was a period of entrepreneurial fervor in my life, when I spent a frustrating year running an Ecommerce store. The Holy Grail was (if you were really good) to get 5-6% conversion rate. I never came close to reaching these dizzy heights of success, and so that millionaire’s yacht, cruising the Caribbean vanished like a fool’s dream.
Moving from the secular to the sacred. I have to say that I was more than impressed when I read about Sam Chan1 (the author of Evangelism to a Skeptical World) a Chinese migrant studying medicine in Sydney, how in the course of four years, all three of his flat mates (all non-Christians also studying medicine) became Christians because of his witness.
That’s a 100% success rate. I think you’d agree, that’s not a bad effort.
How did Sam get a 100% Conversion Rate?
Well according to Sam, it comes down to ‘Plausibility Structures’. Let’s take a look what he means by this ‘plausibility’ thing.
In order for us to accept something as true and then act on it, there are 3 elements that must be meet; Community Validation, Personal Experience and hard-core Evidence.
But before we look at each of these more closely, and I can assure that you won’t be disappointed when we do, I’d like to digress to a scenario, which I’m sure will resonate with you.
My Evangelism Effort Fell Flat – Boy it was Embarrassing
We’ve all been there, smitten by guilt for not witnessing to a friend or work colleague. Finally, we marshal enough courage to make a concerted effort to corner them, so that we can hit them straight between the eyes, with the gospel.
But it didn’t go down well. We limp away licking our wounds, at the same time assuaging our conscience that at least we tried. However, we rarely ask the question, that we ought to ask; “Why did it go so badly? Why did I fail?
Sam’s three elements, reveal the reason for our failure and how to fix it. It’s so simply, you’ll wonder why you never thought of it.
The Three Elements
In order for us to believe and act on a proposition, it must be plausible. That’s not the same as absolute certainty. However, it’s enough to start the process towards absolute certainty.
Firstly, there’s community validation. If I were to tell you that a space ship landed in my front yard, took me to Mars for a meal then brought me back home, all in a nano second, although it seemed like a couple of hours to me, I doubt you’d believe me.
One of the reasons for your doubt, is that you don’t know anyone else in your street or neighbourhood who’s had the same experience. Now imagine that you’re at a neighbourhood barbecue with over 50 people there, and everyone of them has the same story to tell. At first, you’d think there all crazy or having a joke at your expense.
Yet if they persisted and seemed genuine, you still wouldn’t believe them, but you’d start to wonder if there is something that could explain this space ship incidence.
Let’s take this idea into an evangelism life setting. I bet the person you tried to witness to, has zero community validation. That is he/she doesn’t know a single Christian, other than you. Our message, of God, sending his Son from heaven (like a space ship) to earth, to die for their sins, and then being raised to life, and being sent back to heaven (there’s that space ship again) would sound just as crazy to them, as Martians visiting us in a space ship.
Whether we admit it or not, community validation influences what we believe. For instance, in Australia as Christians we believe in a universal health care system and that this system is consistent with our biblical world view.
Yet in American, Christians are opposed (as are most Americans) to universal health care. They aver that the biblical principle for the importance of the individual to care for themselves, is right and proper.
So who’s right? Well you’re asking the wrong question. What it demonstrates is that in this case, as Australians and Americans we have been influenced by the community in which we live, and therefore hold the values it espouses.
That Aha Moment
Still not convinced? My country cousins will corroborate this phenomenon. We in the country attend small churches, with small youth groups. You know 50 may be 100 people. However, it’s mind blowing, when for the first time you attend a Hillsong Conference or a Katoomba Convention. Standing in solidarity with 5,000 to 10,000 other Christians and raising the roof in praise.
This has a powerful validation effect on you. Your spirit is lifted, you just feel so good, that you’re not the only crazy person in the world. There are tens of thousand other crazy people just like you…………….Praise the LORD.
We’ll look at the other two elements next time and tie it all together then.
 Evangelism in a Sceptical World “How to make the unbelievable news about Jesus more believable”
Vic Matthews, has three degrees B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. He is a kiteboard tragic, who now works as a Christian Copywriter. He can be found at http://trustworthycopywriter.com/writing-services/christian-copywriter/
Vic Matthews' previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html